Archive for the ‘news’ Category

Snow in England

December 18, 2009

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This is one of the many times I remember I am fortunate to live in Thailand. The weather is glorious here! It’s about 25 degrees with humidity only 35%. The skies are quite clear and I can see for miles from the apartment.
Good View to the North

Here’s a comparison of the BBC Weather Forecasts for Bangkok, London and San Francisco. You can click on a picture to see it full-size.

Here are links to the current forecasts:

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Faster Internet in Thailand!

December 16, 2009

AAG LogoThis is very good news: Thailand connected to the new Asia America Gateway (AAG). It should mean faster internet speeds for me.

I looked at the official AAG web site: It isn’t informative to visitors and I did not see an announcement.

I will make a note of any speed improvements.

Quiet Birthday Party

December 16, 2009
Bangkok's Birthday Party

Bangkok's Birthday Party

The Bangkok Metropolitan Administration put a lot of effort into Bangkok’s 38th Birthday Party. They have filled the plaza in front of City Hall with booths and displays.

As far as I can see they are all about how the government is taking good care of the city. Of course there are many booths selling food, clothes and knick-knacks as well.

The party was almost deserted when I visited on the afternoon of the second day. Many city workers were sitting around with nothing to do. But I am sure it beat sitting at their desks.

There’s a special song about “Krung Thep” (the short Thai name for the city) to go along with the party.

It’s open until 10pm so perhaps it is busier in the evenings.

But there was no cake.

I have more pictures that I’ll post to Flickr. Leave me a comment if you’d like to see them.

Bangkok’s Birthday Party

December 15, 2009
Bangkok's 38th Birthday Party

Bangkok's 38th Birthday Party

I saw this sign near On Nut Skytrain Station.

It’s 38 years since Changwat Phra Nakhon merged with Thonburi to become the Bangkok Metropolitan Area we know today. Also, Bangkok’s Governor became a directly elected office.

The Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) is having a celebration at City Hall from the 14th to 18th December from 10am to 9pm. I hope there’s cake.

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Constitution Day in Thailand

December 10, 2009
Democracy Monument, Bangkok

Democracy Monument, Bangkok

Today, December 10th is Constitution Day in Thailand. It commemorates the signing of the constitution in 1932 that made the Kingdom into a Constitutional Monarchy.

This is the centre of the Democracy Monument on Ratchadamnoen Klang Avenue. It is a representation of the 1932 Constitution on top of two golden offering bowls above a round turret. Surrounding the turret are four wing-like structures which guard the Constitution, representing the four branches of the Thai Armed Forces.

The Monument has served as a rallying point for several generations of democracy activists in Thailand. It was the focus of the mass student demonstrations against the military regime in 1973, and of the protests that triggered the 1976 military coup. In 1992 soldiers killed scores of Thais as they protested at the Monument against another military regime.

Another Election is Coming

Campaign Truck

The democratic process is still going strong in Thailand. There is another election, I think for local counsellors in the districts (khets) of Bangkok. Here is a campaign truck from the Democrat Party.

There is a useful calendar of holidays in Thailand at

BNE Graffiti in Bangkok

December 10, 2009

Here’s an interview with the man who claims to be behind the BNE graffiti and stickers.  See They are common in Bangkok.

I suspect there may be many copycats who use the same initials in their tags.

I have posted some photos of BNE in Bangkok to Flickr.

Quiet on Silom Road, Bangkok
Bangkok Graffiti
BNE Still Shows Up
There's Still Plenty of BNE Graffiti in Bangkok
Another BNE Graffiti in Bangkok
Most BNEs in Bangkok are stickers. Surprisingly I did not post any to Flickr but there is a group for all BNE graffiti that has many examples:

Here’s one good one:

BNE in Bangkok by antwerpenR

BNE in Bangkok by antwerpenR / CC BY 2.0

I don’t know if I am doing this attribution thing correctly. I searched Flickr for BNE graffiti in Bangkok with a Creative Commons license. This very nice picture taken with a fish eye lens has an Attribution license. I think I am correct in posting the two links above. But please don’t arrest me if I misunderstood: “I’ll correct it officer!”

What Do Baby Boomers Want From Technology?

December 9, 2009

Baby Boom Stamp

Baby Boom Stamp

I wish I’d been invited to one of these research sessions / dinners! Apart from the fact I like free food I think I would have an opinion or two. A few years ago when I lived in California I was part of a pool used by a company that conducted focus groups. They’d call every few months and ask me a load of questions. If I qualified they’d invite me to a session in Sunnyvale. I don’t remember many of them but one was from Yahoo researching small business services. It didn’t pay well – maybe US$30 for a couple of hours work – but it was fun and it felt good to have some influence on the direction of a product.

I was on the other side of the one-way mirror a few times when I worked with an IP Telephony startup in the heady dot com days in San Francisco. We set up focus groups to evaluate our PC-based “smart phone”. That was a chastening experience as users often did not grasp our elegant and intuitive (an overused word I’ve come to dislike) user interface.

“That was a stupid group – recruit another!”

I don’t think I am a typical “baby-boomer” in US terms any more. I have fallen behind the technology curve compared with my peers. But some comments in the article rang true:

  1. I am comfortable with technology. I grew up with PCs and Macs. I am less comfortable with mobile technology though.
  2. I agree “tech products are cluttered with excessive features”. “Excessive” of course means those I don’t want to use. If a product lacks something I want it is “underpowered”. My experience with a Nokia N95 is a case-in-point. It completely flummoxed me. On the other hand I can understand a complex PC product like Lightroom very easily.  The N95 was a whole new paradigm (as we used to say) whereas I’ve been using PC apps since before the PC was invented.
  3. I am much more sceptical than reported about the notion of an “identity passport” for using the Web. I guess I am an “info-libertarian” a heart. I have so many reservations about governments misusing the information “for security reasons“.

The take-away from the survey as reported was very limp:

What does that mean for marketers and product designers? “There is a real opportunity for companies to aim for a smart middle group that may well appeal to everyone,” Mr. Rogers said.

What’s that meant to mean?

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Early Baby Boomers.
A teacher and children in a classroom at the Walsgrave Colliery School near Coventry, where the effect of the rise in the post-war birthrate is causing overcrowded classes. Original publication: Picture Post – 9109 – Overcrowded Schools – 1952 – unpub. (Photo by Haywood Magee/Picture Post/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

Happy Birthday to the King

December 5, 2009

Today, December 5th. is the King’s 82nd birthday. Sadly he is still in hospital and will not be making his customary speech to the Thai people. I wish him well.

Here are some images that I scanned from greetings cards on sale in Bangkok.

December 5th is also celebrated as Father’s Day. Thai people thank their fathers for taking care of them. There’s even a TV show on the preceeding days that dramatizes relationships with fathers.

Jusco Rachada Closing in 2010?

November 29, 2009
My Local Supermarket

Jusco Supermarket in 2007

Somebody told me yesterday that my local supermarket, Jusco, will close in February 2010. Apparently they cannot keep up with the competition. I noticed they have not invested much in the property, especially since IT City moved out of the third floor last year.

Jusco and Carrefour

Jusco & Carrefour

There is a larger Carrefour supermarket next door. There are two Tops Markets within 400 metres, one in the Esplanade complex and another under Robinson’s Department Store. There is a Tesco-Lotus store less than a mile away in Fortune Town Mall.

Jusco is the closest to the apartment and it has a good range of Thai and Western food. I think the fresh produce (vegetables) are better than Carrefour. Moreover the staff and always friendly and helpful. In Carrefour the staff often seem tired and overworked.

I hope they don’t close the car park as that is the shortest route to the Subway Station. Cutting through Carrefour would be a pain.

Every Wednesday is “Jusco Day“. Shoppers get a 25 Baht coupon for every 500 Baht they spend – a 5% discount. I don’t know it makes much sense financially. I am sure many people are like me and do weekly shopping on Wednesdays. If Jusco Day did not exist I’d probably buy the same goods on other days. Jusco does not have any loyalty card scheme so they hand out 5% discounts to everybody without collecting any data about their shopping habits. Tops, Carrefour and Tesco-Lotus all have loyalty cards.

According to the Wikipedia article my Jusco is the one remaining store in Bangkok. Clearly they cannot compete against the big companies.

Friendly Motorcycle Taxi Drivers

Motorcycle Taxi Drivers Outside Jusco

My local friendly motorcycle taxi drivers will also lose their spot. They seem busy all the time.

How Many Photos Do You Print?

November 12, 2009
Do you print your digital images?

Do you print your digital images?

Here’s an interesting snapshot of an online poll. I found it on the home page of the Digital Photography School web site.

I am one of the “1 in 1,000” group.

It must be sobering reading for ink-makers like Hewlett-Packard, Epson and Canon. They’ve been trying for years to get users to print more. But only 15% print one tenth of their photos or more.

Of course this is not a scientific poll – random sample and so on. But I bet it is pretty close.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – if HP et al reduced their ink prices drastically I am sure we’d all print more. With all the business analysts and MBAs they employ I would have thought they could analyse consumer behaviour and sales. I am sure they are not in the sweet spot of the demand curve.

What HP could do is to produce a line of budget printer ink for, say, half the price or less of the regular product. They can position it as a product that does not last as long, have as true colours and so on. They can try it in some test markets and see how it sells. That’s what the packaged goods vendors like Procter and Gamble do. It explains why we have so many brands of nappies (diapers).

It’s also about shelf space in the stores. I bet HP could squeeze out independent ink vendors from stores like Office Depot if they had a low-cost high volume line of inks. Note Office Depot is a big presence in Bangkok. Most Central department store locations have a branch.

I may buy myself a digital picture frame for Christmas. There’s one I like in Fortune Mall for about 8,000 Baht. That’s about US$240 or 160 Euro. One cartridge for my Canon Pixma MP610 costs 500 Baht. It takes four. So for the cost of 16 cartridges I can have an unlimited A4 sized display of my photos.

I have bought “only” 27 cartridges since I bought the printer in late 2007. I cut back my printing after my initial enthusiasm because of the ink cost. Still that is 13,500 Baht in ink whereas the printer cost only 8,000 Baht.